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Full text of "My Country And My People"

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are taught that when we have a straight main line, which may
be horizontal, vertical or slanting, we must contrast it with
curved or soft broken lines around it. The ridge of the roof is
furthermore broken by only a few decorative motives. Only
by the contrast of these lines are the straight lines of the pillars
and the walls endurable. If one sees the best examples of
Chinese temples and dwelling-houses, one notices that the
roof forms the decorative point of emphasis rather than the
pillars or the walls (which often do not exist in front)—the
latter being proportionately small compared with the roof



The origin of the famous roof-line traced to calligraphy*

The top of the characters *'A" and "B" is a component of Chinese \mting,
signifying the "roof." Note the sag in the middle and the sweeping effect
given by Chinese roofs. The top of character "C" signifies "man," but
resembles the upper lines of a roof. Note also the sweeping gesture and the
upward curling at the lower ends.

Note further the principle of structure involved and applied to Chinese
architecture. Note the rigid vertical line (the pillar) in "A/* contrasted with
the curve in the "roof" and with other horizontal strokes attached to it. Note
in "B" the central vertical curve, with the other strokes clustering around a
point at its top and strangely balancing one another.

The origin of the sagging roof, probably the most unique and
obvious characteristic of Chinese architecture, Has never been
properly understood, Some imagine a connection with the
primitive tents of our nomadic days. And yet the reason for it
is obvious in calligraphy. No one who knows the elements of
Chinese calligraphy can fail to see the principle of gracefully
sweeping lines. In Chinese calligraphy the greatest difficulty
is to bring about strength of stroke, as it is always difficult to
give strength to a perfectly straight stroke. On the other hand,
a slight bent on either side will give it immediately a feeling of